Book Plunge: 100 Bible Verses That Made America

What do I think of Robert Morgan’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you want to know about the history of America, it is imperative that you know about the Bible. You don’t have to be a Christian, of course, but a non-Christian should recognize the role that the Bible played in shaping our country. Our Founding Fathers were heavily influenced for the most part by the Bible.

This book follows that shaping from 1511 to 2019. Yes. Even before the country was founded, the seeds were being sown in Scripture that would make us who we are. Great figures in American history have used the Bible to inspire them and to inspire others. Great conversions led to intense ramifications for America.

My personal favorite stories largely took place in the 18th century. This is when our country was starting to establish itself and in war against the British. The way that pastors were targeted at that time is mind-blowing. Back then, the British put a bounty on the heads of certain pastors of churches. Today, most of our pastors are scared to say anything political because they could lose their 501c3.

These people relied on Scripture and based their lives on it. They believed Scripture called them to resist a government that was tyrannical and stand up for the freedom that they believed was found in Christ. Whether their interpretation was right or not, what matters is how seriously that they took the text.

Of course, one can’t avoid talking about American exceptionalism and if anything has made America exceptional, it has been the focus on Scripture. Christianity has shaped our country to be what it is and I have a great fear for what happens the further we move away from that. I keep coming back to a conversation I had a few years ago before even the 2016 election.

I made a statement to someone about the future of our nation that the gospel doesn’t need America, but America needs the gospel. That is still the case. If there is anything that our country needs today, it is still the gospel. We need 100 more instances of the Bible shaping America and even more.

That being said, sometimes in the book, I did question the connection between the verse and the historical incident. Was that incident specifically based on an understanding of the verse in question or did Morgan find a verse that he thought fit the context? I was unsure.

However, reading this will hopefully change your idea of American history. It really is a fascinating topic and with all going on in our country today, one I am definitely looking more into. For those of us who live in America, if we love our country, we need to know how we got to where we are and what we can do to keep America being what she’s meant to be.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A Way Forward

How do we keep going on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, I want everyone to know we officially have a Patreon. I hope you all will donate. I would rather have several of you donating small amounts honestly than to have a few donating big amounts to help our cause. Please consider a donation.

Now on to a blog.

On Wednesday, like many of you, I was watching the news when I could. I was busy and at times I would get updates on my phone telling me some of what was going on. Overall, I largely kept thinking back to April of 2016.

Mike Licona and I were picking up Craig Evans at the airport for a debate he had with Richard Carrier, the unemployed polyamorous prominent internet blogger who’s banned from SkeptiCon, if you’re wondering who I mean by that name. After we took him to his hotel, we had some time before the debate and so we went to Subway.

While there, Mike asked me my opinion of the political climate of our country. What does it take to change things? My answer was the one I have always given. The church has to be the church. You see, the gospel doesn’t need America to survive, but America needs the gospel to survive.

I remain thoroughly convinced of this. Part of what helped out our founding in this country is Christianity. I have been doing some reading on our history and it’s really fascinating how many preachers had bounties placed on their heads by the bishop.

Think about that. A preacher in a church doing a sermon is the most prominent target in the place and has nowhere else to really go, and yet these preachers got up there and preached. What would they think today knowing our country kills babies in the womb, is treating the idea that men and women are different as a joke, has said that the old definition of marriage is not accurate, has prolific pornography, etc.

Most of our preachers today don’t even touch those topics. Can’t risk someone touching the 501c3 or possibly offending someone and getting a lawsuit. Sure, it’s destroying our society and future generations, but at least we’ll have a nice potluck supper this year.

No. The church has to get up and be the church. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House or who controls Congress or who is on the Supreme Court. If we think the right candidates can heal our country, then we are treating a spiritual problem with a political band-aid. This isn’t to say who we vote for doesn’t matter, but it’s not the cure.

There’s a story that Billy Graham went to visit Konrad Adenauer who was the chancellor of West Germany shortly after World War II. Adenauer asked Billy Graham if he believed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Graham was surprised and said that of course he did. (Rumors also have it that he added that he affirmed the virgin birth, which I do affirm.) Adenauer looked out the window at the ruins of Germany and said that apart from the resurrection, He knows of no other hope for mankind.

And that is the hope we need. It is to return to the fact that Jesus by His death and resurrection conquers evil. It is to say that the Kingdoms of this world are not the final say. In Psalm 2, the one enthroned in Heaven laughs at their attempts to undo the reign of His Son. This is not to say we establish a theocracy. I have no wish to see Christianity marry the government like that because men are by nature corrupt.

It is to return to the ethic of Jesus as well and that includes especially the area of sexuality in our culture. Many have said the abstinence movement has failed and in many cases, I agree, but too often we have only given the message of “don’t” and then said everything will be perfect once you marry. I realize most of us don’t really think that, but that is the message that has been heard. We do not have a worldview of sex in our culture today and the rampant chaos on the topic doesn’t show that everyone knows what they’re talking about. It shows the opposite. Hardly anyone does.

It also means love of our neighbor and of ourselves. It means practicing forgiveness. It means keeping our word. It means charity. Instead of waiting around for the government to provide food and medical care, strive to help others yourself. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, which includes the unborn especially.

It has been said that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. If you’re a Christian, whatever political side you are on, you realize that our country has problems and we don’t want a future of constant rioting. I had the same thoughts back in the summer and I think I shared them then, but I have decided that one can either live in doom or gloom, which does nothing, or one can take their own stand.

I choose the latter. I hope you will take it with me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Ads, Memes, And Arguments

Are you getting the message across? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since I live in Georgia, when I turn on YouTube, I will often see political ads. These are pertaining to a coming runoff election in Georgia. What I notice often as a problem with ads is that you simply have a soundbite of about thirty seconds and for whatever party you’re on, that’s not enough to make a case.

Consider ads against the Democrats. We’re told in them that these people running for Senate will be able to bring about the third term of Obama and continue a socialist agenda. Now if you’re a conservative like me who doesn’t like any of that, that sounds persuasive to you.

But what if you weren’t? What if you were someone who liked Obama and who likes the idea of socialism? The ad could actually get you to vote the exact opposite way. Unfortunately, there’s no message coming across of “Here’s why this is bad” or “Here’s why this is good.” If it’s anything, it’s a few brief statements and certainly not an argument.

Memes on the internet are the same way. People who share memes thinking they are convincing arguments are fools. Usually, memes come loaded with presuppositions of what people already think. If you buy into the thought prior, the meme is convincing. If you don’t, it isn’t.

Now if you have made an argument prior, I’m fine with using a meme as an illustration. I’m also fine with using a meme as a point of humor in an argument. We all know that they can be incredibly funny. What I have a problem with is thinking they are the argument itself.

We can also do this in our evangelism today. If you go up to someone and just quote the Bible, it’s not going to be fully persuasive. After all, if they believed the Bible, they would be on the path to being a Christian. (I say this because cults will say they believe the Bible as well.) Your preacher’s point might sound persuasive, but to a skeptic, it might not.

Remember how a few weeks ago I shared how the worship leader at my church said that weapons and items like that had been found at the bottom of a Red Sea in a row? The average layman might have found that convincing. Your average skeptic will not and if he goes home and looks it up or looks it up right there, he could be greatly disappointed.

Internet atheists do the same thing. An account will be thrown out because it contains miracles and I have never understood the point of going after Christians because they believe that a dead man came back to life or that a virgin gave birth (Which I do affirm). This is part and parcel of Christianity. To make the argument that this is stupid, you need to show that miracles are impossible or go even further and show that there is no God who can do miracles. If you go up to someone who believes in God and tells them their religion includes miracles, why should that be a negative?

This is one more reason you try to understand what the other person believes. You need to make an argument that depends on what they believe and showing that that is false instead of going with just what you believe. If your ad or meme starts with what you already agree with, it won’t convince at all, except for people who are already convinced.

This will sadly require work that most people just won’t do. Most people won’t engage on both sides and most people will be persuaded by memes and ads because they are not taking the arguments seriously enough. Don’t be one of those people and you’ll be more persuasive in the end.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A Big Problem With Presidential Debates

What needs to be done to change the debates? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve done debate before. Last year I debated Dan Barker on the existence of God. In many ways, I consider that debate more substantial than any presidential debate I have ever seen. I would say that about most debates I have seen on the topic of religion. Why is that?

I say this also as someone who enjoyed last night’s vice-presidential debate. I came in supporting Pence and on substance definitely, I think he won, but I also think he won on presentation and style. So this isn’t the case of someone saying “Last night’s debate was awful. Here’s what needs to be different” and having the reason because I don’t think my side did good. Now you can think Pence did terrible, and that’s fine, but let it be accepted that my thinking is not based on a disappointment and thus wanting to change the rules.

When Barker and I debated, we had a lengthy time to debate one question. Does God exist? After that, we then took live questions from the audience. If you have just one question and each of you has fifteen minutes at the start to make a case, you can make a substantive case.

So you sit down for last night’s debate and the first thing you hear is about 9 segments of ten minutes each. Sorry, but economic plans and matters related to climate change and abortion are not able to really be covered that substantially in just 10 minutes apiece.

Part of that is our culture has become a soundbite culture. We want an answer and we want it quick. If you want to give an economic plan, you need to be able to have time to explain why you think raising or cutting taxes will help and most people don’t read anything on economics to consider such a question.

What about health-care? Nope. You can’t really lay out a whole plan in that short amount of time. Not only that, we have to remember the other side has to have time to respond to that within a few minutes and then the original presenter needs to respond and wait, both of them are supposed to make a case in that time.

At the same time, I understand that especially in any case, the current president and vice-president are busy and won’t always be able to do a debate. What would I recommend? More debates from people that each party will say represents their side versus one on the other. Want to debate health care? Have a whole debate on that topic. Climate change? Racism? Yes. A whole debate.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen simply because most people don’t really have that kind of attention span anymore. We want quick and soundbite answers to questions and think everything should be able to be given in bite-size portions. It can’t be. That’s the nature of the beast. I don’t care who is giving the case. If this is a substantive issue, it requires work.

And dare I say it, maybe if you want to understand these issues, you will need to do that on your own some time. Watch on Facebook and when anything major happens, everyone becomes an expert on everything. We live in an age where we think we are worth listening to because we have an opinion. No. Your opinion might be right and valid, but you need to read up on it and give an informed reason for your case.

Ultimately, it all comes down to a public willing to better educate themselves. Unfortunately, I have no pipe dreams of this happening anytime soon. I also see no way to bring it about instantly. The best I would say is start with the churches being willing to educate themselves and hire preachers who know what they’re talking about and have educational credentials. If we want change to start with the world, it needs to start with us.

We could all bear to be more informed anyway.

Also, let questions come from the audience more often that’s there live. Let them tell us what is most important to us. Don’t let a moderator decide that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Another Rant About Research

Should you share that claim so quickly? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christians are supposed to be people of truth. Some claims, of course, cannot be verified easily. They also cannot be falsified easily. Some are very controversial and have intelligent people on both sides. However, some claims are just bogus or at least highly insufficient. Sadly, too often I see these and get incredibly frustrated.

This is the internet. Imagine if you woke up one day and saw a story being shared on Facebook that you were a pedophile. You go about and refute the charges the best you can and most people believe you, but some do not. Stories are shared all over the Facebook and your reputation can be destroyed just like that.

That might be extreme, but consider whenever you spread false information about another person on the internet, you are doing just that. This is especially worse if you’re a Christian since you claim to be a person of truth. You are doing what James said not to do and using your tongue, or in this case, your keyboard, to destroy.

Not only that, you want people to believe you when you tell them Jesus rose from the dead. Right? Even if all you have is your personal testimony, you want people to believe that. Why on Earth should anyone believe you on stuff that can’t be studied in five minutes, if they cannot believe you in what could have been easily checked with an internet search?

So let’s look at some claims this weekend that I came across.

You know that Trump was supposed to hold the Republican convention in Florida? He was, but he cancelled. What was the reason? Well, believe it or not, it was because Black Lives Matter had a bunch of buses lined up ready to get protesters and rioters to the meeting and make a scene.

I also want to say that I do say this as someone who voted for Trump and who does not support the movement Black Lives Matter. Of course, black lives matter, but the organization itself stands for a number of issues that I cannot support. Therefore, in saying what I am saying, I am actually calling out a fellow conservative who shared false information.

So the claim was Trump cancelled this because of the protesters. What was the evidence? Pictures of the buses lined up. Let’s take a look at these.

In the first picture, the buses could hypothetically say Black Lives Matter, but you can’t tell for sure. It could say Black Ladies Aboard. It could say Black Looks Beautiful. There’s any number of things it could say. The second picture has a bunch of buses that say absolutely nothing like that.

Doing my own research on the picture, the nearest I can figure is that the top buses do say Black Lives Matter, but that they were also from the Toronto Raptors who were in Florida. Even if that wasn’t the case, let’s consider something else. Whether you love Trump or hate him, does anyone think he shies away from confrontation and/or a fight? I found it amusing that I, as a conservative, was questioned because I dared to ask questions about the evidence, but alas, the evidence for this one is lacking.

Sometimes people send me YouTube videos that are really conspiracy theories. Please don’t. I hardly watch two minutes of these things if that much before I know they’re absolute nonsense. Last night, I got sent one that said that anything in history before the 1600’s is highly questionable.

Please don’t bother sending me stuff like this. I really find it highly embarrassing to see this stuff and to see Christians spreading it. On that, let’s give a brief caveat.

I have said something about conservatives and Christians and I am both, but this is not a conservative or a Christian problem. This is a human problem. We are all inclined to believe things that tend to go with our biases at the time. Liberals spread conspiracy theories. Atheists spread conspiracy theories. (Yes. Jesus mythicism I count as a conspiracy theory for atheists) Let’s not go on about how one group is so stupid. It’s all of us.

Also, for many atheists, it’s really hard for me to take you seriously as a person of reason and evidence when I see you blindly believing something about Christianity. Many Christians are skeptical of evolution. That cannot be studied in five minutes, and yet they see you sharing Jesus mythicism stuff and you expect them to take you seriously on this topic?

So let’s go with a final one. Someone shared this and I went directly to the source material which apparently was another Facebook page. So what’s the claim? Apparently, Lady Gaga has a new album called Chromatica where she celebrates extracting blood from the pineal glands of traumatized children. Here, you can see a picture of her covered with blood and her children drinking blood.

Wow. That’s pretty serious isn’t it? Look at Gaga covered in that blood and those children with zombie stares on their faces drinking blood. That’s pretty serious.

Or is it?

If you saw the real picture, it would say Entertainment Weekly on the bottom left. Why would that be the case? Because this is a picture of Lady Gaga on the set of American Horror Story where she played a character called the Countess.

This is probably the worst offender on this list today because this is an accusation of moral turpitude. None of us would like to be accused of this. It doesn’t matter what you think of Lady Gaga. I don’t particularly care for her stuff, but it’s wrong to share this information about her. I have my opponents on political issues, for example, but if you want to say something against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, you’d better make sure it’s true or at least has darn good evidence for it. I only want my opponents taken down in truth.

Christians. Please be better about sharing things like this. Please do your own research independently. It’s too easy to hit that “share” button on Facebook and share it immediately. You are damaging your reputation though if it’s false and someone else’s reputation as well.

I would just advise you to avoid conspiracy theories altogether. The best conspiracy to pull off, as J. Warner Wallace has said, is two guys working to commit a crime and at the end one of them shoots the other one. Please don’t jump on board with these things immediately. Do your homework. Do your research.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/15/2018: Erick Erickson

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Snoopy said years ago there were three things to not discuss in public. Politics, religion, and the Great Pumpkin. We tend to be pretty good about the third one, but the first two not so much. Chesterton was also told when he got his job with the newspaper writing that he could write about anything except politics and religion. He said those were the only things worth writing about.

Today, we have a multiplicity of views on politics and religion. Some Christians are extremely gung-ho about politics. Some could be so much that they marry their Christianity to their politics. Others take an exact opposite approach. Politics is about the kingdom of man. We need to talk about the kingdom of God. They say this and conclude there’s no reason for Christians to be involved in politics.

So which is it? We have quotes from the Bible like “My Kingdom is not of this world” and “Render unto Caesar”, but at the same time, Jesus is a political figure often. He is a challenge to Caesar and to Herod both. Biblical scholars have shown that the title Son of God given to Jesus is also a title that was given to Caesar.

To discuss this, I needed to have someone on the show with a foot in both worlds. I needed a Christian who knows politics very well. I didn’t have to look very far.  I found this one just on my radio dial. Here in the Atlanta area, there is someone who has his own show on the local talk station, WSB, who is also a devout Christian in seminary. His name is Erick Erickson.

Who is he?

According to his bio:

Erick Erickson is the host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB and Editor of The Resurgent. Erickson has been a contributor for both CNN and Fox News and The Atlantic named him one of the most influential conservative voices in America. He studied political science and history at Mercer University and earned a law degree at Walter F. George School of Law. He is currently working towards his Ph.D. in theology.  Erickson lives with his family in Macon, Georgia. To learn more, visit http://theresurgent.com/.

We’ll be talking about the intersection of politics and religion. How does a Christian navigate the worlds of politics and religion? There are so many issues that it seems we need to be aware of in politics and in the world of Facebook, everyone thinks that they’re an expert on everything. How can Christians be able to have an influence on politics and still devote themselves to the Kingdom of God?

How also should we settle political differences? Was Jesus a Republican or a Democrat? Was He a Communist or a Socialist?

I hope you’ll be listening this Saturday as we discuss a plethora of such issues. Please also be in prayer for me. I recently did have to have two teeth extracted. I am in recovery, but I am doing the show anyway. (This isn’t me being stubborn either. The dentist said I could.) Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Reclaim America And Bad Research

How should we look at claims about our enemies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Politically, I am a conservative. I have always been one. Despite that, I have also tried to be as honest as I could. My own father had a problem in the past of sending out an email blast to a bunch of people or sharing something on Facebook about Obama and I would do five minutes of checking and find out that it wasn’t true. My stance was always we should aim to defeat our political opponents, but we must always do so in truth. This thread is not about politics though.

What I am doing I would hope anyone would do. If you are a Trump supporter for instance, do what I do and check claims on people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and also check positive stuff about Trump before sharing it. If you are of the liberal persuasion. Check the reverse. Make sure that negative story about Trump is true.

I find this interesting also in light of going through Abdu Murray’s Saving Truth now where he talks about a post-truth society. In this society, we will share something even if it isn’t true and even if we know it isn’t true because it goes against our opponents. For those of us who are Christians, this should never be the case.

So there is a page called Reclaim America on Facebook. Sadly, I have written about them before with bad research. I wasn’t surprised to see that there was more of the same. The about of the Facebook page says this about them.

“Our mission is to speak truth to the lies of the Progressive Liberal Agenda! This page is kept current with information by the team of administrators that run it. God Bless the USA & those that seek to defend her!”

Fair enough. If you think liberals are spreading lies, then you should want to combat them. However, if you think lying is a problem, shouldn’t you make sure what you share is true?

So yesterday, I am surfing Facebook and I see this picture. I want to say upfront that I do not like profanity and the only reason I share this is because I want to be as accurate as I can. Anyway, this is what was shared.

Now immediately, several people are posting about what an awful woman Hillary is. As a conservative, I am no fan of Hillary and I do understand some things. First off, Hillary does have a reputation of being foul-mouthed, including around the Secret Service from when she was in the White House. Second, we do know that there were leaked emails. On the face of it, this could be plausible then.

But darn it, I have this tendency. I want to check up on things. There’s a date to this email and there’s a specific quote. It should be easy to find.

Except it isn’t. In fact, I find an incident from September 7 that matches it. This is one where Hillary said the exact same thing out loud at a Matt Lauer interview.

There is also another source out there that is doing the same thing. I found this video doing my search. For them, they had an email from someone with a Comcast email address. The original page I linked to about the incident had an NBC associate producer as the source. None of this is backed by anyone else. No specific names are given. Nothing.

So we have a claim with different dates and different sources and different forums. It leads me to think that this whole thing is bogus. Now keep in mind, a lack of evidence does not mean that it is necessarily false. Perhaps something like this did happen and no one reported it except a few isolated individuals, but I’m skeptical.

Even if it’s not necessarily false, there’s still no positive evidence that it is true. Now someone did point out emails went through Bleach Bit. Okay, but if that’s true, then how did we get those emails so we can know what is in them? Furthermore, if you point a specific date and no one can find an email on this date that has this, what are we to think?

Now if Reclaim America or anyone else can find this email, I will gladly retract this and issue an apology. Until then, I am skeptical of this whole thing. For those of us wanting to be people of truth, it doesn’t help our cause if we spread things so easily that anyone can see is not necessarily true.

As a conservative, this bothers me, but as a Christian, it does so even more. If you have no reason to believe something I share based on five minutes of checking, why should you believe it when I tell you that the Son of God came and rose from the dead which will take much more time to research and study? I have already damaged my witness by that.

It’s my hope that not only Reclaim America but anyone involved in debate will learn even more to check claims. Whatever side we want to serve in a debate, let’s try to serve it truthfully. If we don’t want false claims shared about our side or unprovable claims to be shared, let’s make sure we do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Are You A True Skeptic?

What arguments do you accept? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just recently, I was in a Facebook group and I saw someone share something from Lawrence Krauss claiming that there were several divine figures at the time of Jesus born of virgins (And I do affirm the virgin birth) who died and rose again. It didn’t take long for a bunch of us to show that this was wrong. What was most amazing to me was that this was accepted.

What matters to me about this is how quickly people who call themselves skeptics will cease to be skeptics. This isn’t to say that their skepticism of Christianity is necessarily unreasonable. Some skepticism is good. The claims we make are pretty intense after all and should be backed by evidence. The problem is that a scholar says something that supports Christianity or shows an attack on i is false and that’s questioned, but show someone who attacks it and that’s an immediate Gospel truth.

I also think it’s important to point out that we Christians can do the same. There are many Christians who will share something immediately if it supports Christianity, but it turns out to be false. This is also true in the area of politics. Many people will share something that supports their political viewpoint without checking up on it.

After the Florida shooting, there were news stories going around about eighteen school shootings taking place this year. Some of you might be surprised by that news. You never heard about all of these school shootings. There’s a good reason for that. They didn’t really happen, at least not the way you would think. One such school shooting was when a man was in the parking lot of an Elementary school that was closed at the time and committed suicide with a gun. Somehow, that qualifies as a school shooting.

Many of you know that I’m a political conservative, yet I have taken enough conservatives to task for sharing false stories about political opponents. Our side is not helped by sharing stories that are false and we damage our reputation by sharing those stories.

The solution to all of this is really simple. Test everything. Check it all out. If you are a Christian, don’t damage your reputation by sharing things that are false. It shows people you are gullible and undermines your witness to Christianity.

If you are a skeptic of Christianity, you should also want to be taken seriously. It’s not going to be happening by sharing copycat myth ideas or even worse, ideas that Jesus never existed. No. Carrier is not the most awesome New Testament scholar of all time. Most of us will actually discount you pretty quickly just for mentioning Carrier.

Everyone should agree to this. Test all things. If you’re a Christian and a skeptic does disprove something you believe to be true, accept it. If you’re a skeptic and a Christian disproves something for you, do likewise. Of course, you’re more prone to accept ideas that already fit with your worldview, but watch your own bias first. If we want to have more informed discussions, it starts with us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Our Marching Orders

What do we do depending on how today goes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our country right now is in political turmoil. Assuming the election does end tonight, one side is going to go to bed tonight very very unhappy. As for me, I’m a conservative who has voted Republican all my life and I have kept that up and frankly, today terrifies me. Many of you might not agree, but I do think a Hillary election would be the worst thing to happen to America. Instead of being NeverTrump, I was and am definitely NeverHillary.

Maybe you don’t share my sentiments, but either way, I hope you can understand my own fears. They are fears that have made it difficult for me to sleep at night and left me worrying about the future. We already struggle here economically as it is. Will our situation get worse? This is especially important for those of us, like myself, who are in the non-profit industry. We rely on donations. What happens if those do not come in because people do not have it anymore?

Never mind also that there is a lot of political unrest that I see. Many people, whether they are NeverTrump or not, are angry about the FBI probe and think that we can’t count on the government to look out for us anymore. Add in other concerns like putting justices who will defend abortion on the Supreme Court and the second amendment and our fear of ISIS and there is even greater fear.

What happens if things go negatively? I am fearful that we have reached a boiling point here in America. There is so much unrest that if that one spark comes to light the fuse, I don’t know what will happen to the powder keg that is our country. This election has sadly brought out the worst in us and people on all sides have called into question each other’s Christianity and conservatism.

Yet as I ponder this fear, I try to think back. The early church faced a far worse scene. They had the Roman Empire to deal with and there was no internet they could use to connect to each other, no special advocates for Christianity, and no generations of study on Christianity. They were day-wage earners who for the most part would not have any savings stored up and could often find themselves the target of prison, death, and just outright shaming simply for their religious stance, which was also a direct challenge to Caesar.

Now here’s the sad part.

They probably trusted God far more than you and I do today.

Let’s consider Paul. Paul is in a prison cell and he’s writing letters and what is he writing? He’s writing on how to have joy. Yep. I find it hard enough to do outside of the prison cell. I find it hard to do in a society where I can have pretty much everything that I want. Paul honestly shames me in this regard.

Why is it that Paul could have this attitude? He knew what a difference Jesus made to everything. He saw the world was no longer the same place and the Roman Empire was just a bump on the road to the glory of Jesus. Does that mean he foresaw a day where Constantine, the ruler of the empire, would become a Christian? We cannot know, but we can be sure he was convinced the church of Jesus Christ could never be stomped out. God would not be thwarted.

Why do I not have faith like Paul’s? If I must be honest, and of course that is a requirement for a Christian, I believe it is because I do not really see the difference that Jesus makes. Jesus brought a radical transformation into this world.

Consider what the new atheists often say about morality. If we ask if it’s right for one man to own another as a slave, the new atheists answer the question is obvious. Everyone knows that. The people at the time of Jesus would agree. It’s a simple answer. Certainly, slavery is okay. Our world is built on it. They would be shocked at the new atheists today. Don’t we all know that we have to have this institution?

Why do we accept the idea as obvious today that slavery is wrong? Because we grew up with that Christian background. Many of our moral stances are what we have inherited so long from so many past generations that now we don’t even think about it. Unfortunately, we are seeing this start to come undone. This is especially so in the area of sexual morality with the whole redefining of marriage and the allowance of abortion.

Christianity grew up in a world where slavery, abortion, and homosexual practice were all accepted. Christianity changed it all. If you want to talk about a situation that was hopeless, look at Christianity. If an alien from another planet was watching the world in the first century and was wondering who would be in charge in 300 years, either this ragtag group called Christians or the Roman Empire, they would put their money on the Roman Empire.

They would be wrong.

What did it take for this to happen? The church was the church. Several months ago I was talking with someone who was asking me about where our country was going. What will it take to stop a continual downfall? I gave the answer I always give. The church has to be the church.

What does that mean? We have to literally be Jesus to the world. Now some of you are probably thinking “That means we walk with love and kindness and be good people.” Of course, we should do that, but it is much more than that. We must say Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not and it does not matter who the Caesar is.

The early church worked together in unison and sought to take care of their own and build one another up. We have far more resources to do this today. We have far greater means to do this today. We just don’t have the willpower to do so unfortunately. Too many of us have seen Christianity as an all-about-me scenario.

Despite this, if we are to be the church, we cannot say we will be the church in order to change our country. Christianity is not a means to an end. If we are being Christian and truly living it, the country will change on its own. Why is it that in our country Christianity can be shut down? Because they know that Christians will take it. They won’t dare say the same thing about Radical Islam.

That doesn’t mean we take the Muslim route of using physical violence. Absolutely not. It does mean that we do learn to stand up for ourselves where we can. We don’t be scared to step on toes if we have to. The early church wasn’t. Jesus Himself wasn’t.

Just yesterday, I was dialoguing with someone who I would say is a seeker with questions about Christianity. We talked about the crucifixion of Jesus and the emphasis given was on his teachings, which I think would be his moral teachings. The problem I said is this. Jesus was crucified. If Jesus was just a good moral teacher teaching these feel-good sayings, he would have been at worst a nuisance. He would not be someone that would be worth crucifying.

Yet he was crucified.

Jesus was crucified because He did rock the boat. He was seen as a threat to those in power and He must have done something to earn that attention. He not only was a threat, He went to the direct center of Judaism at the time, Jerusalem, and did it right at the time where He would know He was walking into a death trap. He did it anyway.

If you want to talk about a revolutionary position, Jesus was indeed a revolutionary. He didn’t do it with weapons like a zealot would. He did it by the offering of Himself to fulfill the role of Israel.

Jesus wasn’t afraid to rock a boat. Today, we hesitate to say anything because we are afraid we might “offend someone” or “hurt their feelings.” I do not picture Jesus having this fear at all. I am not at all saying to needlessly offend people, but if you tell the Gospel and tell people they are not in line with Jesus who is the king of this world, then you will offend them.

If we want to see our truly transformed society, it really wouldn’t depend on who got into the White House. It might make it easier for us. It might not. Our marching orders will be the same. We have to be the church.

If Trump wins, what our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

If Clinton wins, what are our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

No matter what happens, the church has to be the church. The Gospel does not need America to flourish, but America needs the Gospel to flourish. Again, we don’t do this because we want our country to flourish if we are Americans, although we certainly should much as the Israelites were even to pray for the well-being of Babylon while in captivity, but we do it because we are Christians. If you are not in America, these are your marching orders wherever you are.

So what will I do tonight? I will strive to be the church. I won’t deny it’s hard. I struggle with my own worry and anxiety and fear, but I have to look at the reality of who God is. He is on the throne. I have to trust and of course, it isn’t easy, but the early church did it with Rome. Why can I not do it here? The problem isn’t with God and it isn’t with Christianity and it isn’t with the government. It is with me.

Today and tomorrow and from now on, be the church. Those are your marching orders.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/25/2016: Jonathan Leeman

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Politics. The very word makes us immediately want to hold our ground against our opponent. If you asked people what are the two most divisive forces in the world, chances are you’d hear politics along with religion. Whether or not that’s true, that would show how our society views both of those. If that’s the case, then what are we to think of the idea of church being political?

That is exactly what we have in this week’s guest. My guest is Jonathan Leeman who is the author of the book Political Church. It is a book that I have reviewed previously.

So who is he?

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Jonathan Leeman is the editorial director for 9Marks. After doing undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science, Jonathan began his career in journalism where he worked as an editor for an international economics magazine in Washington, D. C. Since his call to ministry, Jonathan has earned a master of divinity and a Ph.D. in theology and worked as an interim pastor.

Today he edits the 9Marks series of books as well as the 9Marks Journal. He has written for a number of publications and is the author or editor of a number books:

Jonathan lives with his wife and four daughters in a suburb of Washington, DC and serves as an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He is also an occasional lecturer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and teaches adjunctively for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Reformed Theological Seminary.

So we’ll be jumping into the hot seat. You might not get something such as who you should vote for this election cycle, but what you will get is how the church is to function and not just the church, but all of our societies. Politics is unavoidable just like religion is. As long as we are going to be doing politics then, we might as well be doing politics well.

As we prepare to go into the 2016 election season, politics is on everyone’s mind and so is religion still. Why not be prepared to talk about them? I hope you’ll be listening this Saturday as I interview Jonathan Leeman on this book. Please also go to ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters